The Church of St John the Evangelist, Shobdon
Architect: Henry Flitcroft
Photograph: Edwin Smith (date unknown)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection
The church of St John the Evangelist, Shobdon, is one of the best examples of the early Gothic Revival style. Rebuilt 1752-56 for the Hon. Richard Bateman of Shobdon Court, it was almost certainly designed by the ever-adaptable architect Henry Flitcroft (1697-1769).
Bateman was a friend of Horace Walpole, whose house Strawberry Hill at Twickenham, Middlesex, remodelled from 1747 onwards, was extremely influential in the spread of the Gothic Revival style. For those who did not know Walpole’s house at first hand but who wanted to employ the style, the useful 'Ancient Architecture Restored and Improved' was published in 1742 by the wonderfully named Batty Langley (1696-1751). This was a pioneering attempt to make Gothic architecture intelligible to an age brought up on the classical orders. Langley’s engravings were widely adapted by designers and craftsmen, and were perhaps utilised here at Shobdon.
Stylistically, Shobdon is a jolly and cheerful version of medieval architecture made fit for polite society. This is evident in this photograph. The windows, pews and gallery delight in simple geometry, with their crisp ogee arches and quatrefoils. Decorated in a pale blue and white colour-scheme, this church looks as if it has emerged from a cake shop.